Definition of cantor in English:


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  • 1An official who sings liturgical music and leads prayer in a synagogue.

    Also called hazzan

    ‘Synagogue services can be led by a rabbi, a cantor or a member of the congregation.’
    • ‘One thing I remember clearly is how she sang the cantor in the synagogue service.’
    • ‘His mother was Rosalie Israelssohn while his father was Adolf Lasker, a cantor in the synagogue whose role there was to lead the liturgical prayers and chanting.’
    • ‘Look around a synagogue when a cantor offers a new tune for prayer, and both sides of the debate will become apparent.’
    • ‘Hammer is a devout Orthodox Jew and the son of a synagogue cantor.’
    • ‘The answer is chilling: many clergy persons in many churches and some rabbis and cantors participate.’
    • ‘He spoke Yiddish and had been a cantor in a Harlem synagogue.’
    • ‘Slowly, slowly I began to approach the Wall in fear and trembling like a pious cantor going to the lectern to lead the prayers.’
    • ‘A member of a musical family, in which his mother, Rose, sang and played the songs of Cole Porter and Jerome Kern, and his grandfather was a cantor at a Bronx synagogue, young Alan joined right in.’
    • ‘Finally, it's come to my attention that the up-and-coming Canadian boy band B4-4 is fronted by the twin sons of the cantor of my family synagogue.’
    • ‘The Jolson Story - Young Asa Yoelson lives with his parents in Washington where his father is a cantor at the local synagogue.’
    • ‘Scored for mixed chorus, tenor and organ, it was premiered at the synagogue with its cantor, David Putterman, singing the tenor solo.’
    • ‘I am not a cantor by profession, but my synagogue, like many, prefers to employ regular members like myself to lead the prayers instead of going the professional route.’
    • ‘Often in non-orthodox settings, prayer is undertaken by the rabbi and the cantor.’
    • ‘Many boys also read the weekly Torah portion, having studied it in advance with a cantor or scholar experienced in reading the Torah.’
    • ‘He played on the Jewish soccer team, enjoyed listening to the cantor sing at the town synagogue and has maintained close friendships with several childhood Jewish friends.’
    • ‘As the cantor would be reading about the Temple, I would completely disconnect, planning my summer vacation, celebrating the end of my exams, or just hoping that the fast will go well this year.’
    • ‘Too many cantors ignore the subtlety of their sacred practice.’
    • ‘He approached a friend and colleague, John Braham, a former cantor, who had been baptized and had become the leading tenor in London.’
    • ‘The cantor began to chant a soft melody called Kol Nidrei.’
  • 2(in formal Christian worship) a person who sings solo verses or passages to which the choir or congregation responds.

    ‘In my parish, I'm a cantor and choir member, and I really enjoy singing and leading the congregation in song.’
    • ‘The ceremony is begun by the priest, assisted by a cantor or church choir that sings the responses.’
    • ‘The collection for parish choirs, congregations and cantors features new compositions by Liam Lawton and Kiltimagh born composer Ronan McDonagh.’
    • ‘Unison congregational responses alternate with vernacular stanzas sung by a cantor.’
    • ‘When I am around people under 18, or working as a cantor in a Christian church, I either hide it or take it off as a sign of respect toward another's sacred space.’
    • ‘Openly lesbian and gay people act as Eucharistic ministers, lectors, and cantors and fully participate in many of the parish programs.’
    • ‘The cantor's solo is the most passionate, heartrending music of the liturgical year.’
    • ‘The lectors, the cantor, many of the servers and all those bringing up the gifts were female.’
    • ‘I've celebrated Mass with the Catholics and served as a choir director and cantor.’
    • ‘Liturgical worship was increasingly performed by clergy, with the cantors, for the laity; and the clergy were more heard than seen.’
    • ‘The rich-toned chanting and counter-chanting of priests, cantors and people went on for two hours while candles smoked in the breeze and clouds rolled like gunsmoke over the shoulders of Psiloritis.’
    • ‘One of those is David Cherwien, cantor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, the same position Manz held for many years.’
    • ‘In a Lutheran service, there is a minister, a cantor, a servant, and an organist.’
    • ‘Since 1999 she has been a regular cantor at St Patrick's Cathedral & is a freelance singer for weddings & other ceremonies’
    • ‘From the beginning of his career, he viewed his task as composer and cantor as the creation and performance of music for the glory of God.’
    • ‘Her husband, cantor at a local Orthodox church, informed the police who arrested him.’
    • ‘On November 11, 18 and 25, the Tuam Archdiocese is running work-shops for cantors, leading the singing at Mass and on other occasions.’
    • ‘Laypeople have served as readers, prayer leaders, cantors, communion ministers, announcers, and greeters, as well as ushers, acolytes, and musicians.’
    • ‘Back at Maynooth College he joined the choir and became the senior cantor in charge of liturgical singing.’
    • ‘Wolff traces his development as organist, composer, cantor, court musician and teacher, culminating in Bach's 27 years as cantor and music director in Leipzig.’



/ˈkan(t)ər/ /ˈkæn(t)ər/ /ˈkantôr/ /ˈkæntɔr/


Mid 16th century from Latin, ‘singer’, from canere ‘sing’.